COMMUNION in a Church of Scotland kirk, a familiar sight for many. But look closely, for unlike most communion services, the congregation is sitting around the communion table at the front. This is the Old Kirk on Pennywell Road in West Pilton, which recently marked its 60th anniversary.
The unusual communion has been celebrated there since at least the 1940s. When the communion hymn is sung, the congregation gathers around the table, communion and a blessing is received, before members return to their seats.
June Young, treasurer and an elder at the kirk, says: “There is a sense of community. Visitors really seem to like it. It is very symbolic, reminiscent of Jesus sitting around the table with His disciples.”
The Old Kirk name has its origins in the Middle Ages at St Giles’ Cathedral. The nave, where the common people gathered for their service, was older than the chancel – it became known as the Old Kirk, the chancel the New Kirk.
Aside from a brief stint at Calton Hill, the Old Kirk congregation met in St Giles’ until 1869 when it moved to Blackfriars Street. A church was built for the Old Kirk at the south-west corner of St John’s Street in 1882, but in 1941 it was on the move again, first to Crewe Toll, then on to West Pilton.
In May 1950, the foundation stone of the present church was laid and it was opened on November 25, 1951. The minister during the move was the Reverend Ian Reid, who officiated from 1947 to 1967. Since then there have been six ministers, including the incumbent, the Reverend Tony Foreman.
The church’s special birthday was marked by a ceilidh and a special service on Sunday. June says: “A lot a old familiar faces came back to celebrate with us. It was a lovely service.”